I had the pleasure of meeting Beth McMullen at Kepler’s Bookstore last fall for their “Mighty Middle Grade” event. I love stories that take place in boarding schools, and the voice in this story is extremely engaging. I was sucked right in!

After a botched escape plan from her boarding school, Abigail is stunned to discover the school is actually a cover for an elite spy ring called The Center, along with being training grounds for future spies. Even more shocking? Abigail’s mother is a top agent for The Center and she has gone MIA, with valuable information that many people would like to have—at any cost. Along with a former nemesis and charming boy from her grade, Abigail goes through a crash course in Spy Training 101, often with hilarious—and sometimes painful—results. But Abigail realizes she might be a better spy-in-training than she thought—and the answers to her mother’s whereabouts are a lot closer than she thinks…


Abby and the rest of her friends go international as they embark on their first “official” Center mission in this second book in the Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls series.

After discovering the truth about her spy school/boarding school—and her super-spy mom—Abby Hunter is ready for her next adventure, but what’s about to happen is something she never would have guessed…

Everyone at The Smith School is obsessed with Monster Mayhem, the latest reality video game craze. But when Drexel Caine, the mastermind behind the game is suddenly kidnapped, it becomes clear that the kidnappers are playing for more than just special badges.

After Drexel’s son—who is Abby’s friend, Toby—receives a cryptic message, Abby and her friends discover the kidnapping is part of a bigger scheme that could take down The Center for good.

With the help of Abby’s frenemy (and reluctant mentor), Veronica Brooks, the group tackles their first official Center Mission. They tangle with the world’s most notorious hacker, get in trouble for the possible theft of the Mona Lisa, and prepare for the ultimate showdown in London. But not before they have to contend with one more hurdle: the agonizing Smith School Spring Formal. Along the way, they discover they are much stronger as a team they can ever be alone.

And with a little luck, they might just save the world.


Coming August 6, 2019!

Abby and her classmates have all been invited to Briar Academy to participate in The Challenge, a prep school competition where teams compete for prizes and the glory of being the best of the best. While there, they figure out their nemesis, The Ghost, is using Briar as headquarters to plan a devastating attack on his enemies (a.k.a.: pretty much everyone) using a brand-new invention Toby developed. And this time, The Center and Mrs. Smith will be of no help as Abby suspects there is someone working for The Ghost on the inside—and they can trust no one.

You have a parakeet named Zeus. (What a great name for a bird!). How did you end up with a parakeet for a pet? 

We had just lost our 20 year old cat and everyone was really missing her. My son had seen the parakeets in PetCo as a little kid and always wanted one. We were pet free so I figured why not? My son’s best friend had Poseidon so naturally…Zeus. Zeus is the loudest 2 ounce creature on the planet. He hates action movies so much we have to cover his cage in order to hear. About six months after we got Zeus, we somehow ended up with 2 kittens. Cats and birds living together. Yes, it’s exactly as it sounds.

Ha! Somehow I’m reminded of that Bill Murray line from Ghostbusters. In MRS. SMITH’S SPY SCHOOL FOR GIRLS, Abigail is faced with some difficult choices. Did her story come to you right away, or did it gradually shape itself? 

I went to boarding school as a kid and I always loved the idea of using that setting in a book but I couldn’t figure out how. I tried with an adult thriller but it was awful and I ditched it. Later, I made another pass with something more YA but that too was missing something. It wasn’t until I brought the age of the main character way down to twelve, which was completely new terrain for me, that the story started to work. I wrote a draft of that and let it sit for more than a year because I wasn’t sure what I was doing writing middle grade fiction. When I eventually came back to it, I was surprised that it wasn’t terrible. A few drafts later and I managed to sell it as a series.

That makes sense. I’ve also heard that it’s tough to get an authentic voice in Middle Grade. In what ways did Abigail’s voice feel right to you?  

I like to describe Abby as the kid I wish I had been. She is bold, fearless, a little reckless, loyal and smart. She will run straight at trouble and figure how how to manage it when she gets there. I think the key to writing authentic middle grade characters is not to dumb them down or try to force them to sound young. Abby and her friends sound not unlike adults but the subject matter and the situations are different. It’s also important to find a way to listen to actual kids. When my teenaged kids have friends over, I blatantly eavesdrop, just to pick up the cadence of their speech and what topics have got their attention!

Sounds like a great method, as long as your kids don’t mind! What are some of your current projects?  

Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls wraps up this summer, when DOUBLE CROSS comes out on August 6th. I’m also working on How to Find Lost Things, a new Middle Grade series from Simon & Schuster/Aladdin, coming summer 2020. In it, twelve year old Lola Benko is desperate to find her missing father, a famous archaeologist who was last seen in hot pursuit of the magical Stone of Istenanya, which is not supposed to exist. But Lola quickly discovers finding a missing person is no easy thing. She will have to go to extraordinary lengths if she ever wants to see her father again and accept things she never thought possible. Like Mrs. Smith’s, this series has action, adventure, friendship and humor.

Buy: Book Passage ~ Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Indiebound

Buy: Book Passage ~ Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Indiebound

Buy: Book Passage ~ Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Indiebound

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